loren Eric Swanson: The Jesuits and spiritual movements

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Jesuits and spiritual movements

On the way back from Mexico I finished "Heroic Leadership--How a 450 year-old company changed the world"--and the title was an accurate description of the book. Founded by Ignatius Loyola, when he was 49, the Jesuits cut a huge swath across the globe, founding 30 colleges in 12 years, 200 in the first 60 years (and eventually over 700 secondary schools and universities) and by the 1800's one out of every five Europeans was educated in a Jesuit school. They crossed mountains, forged rivers, filled in many of the white spaces on the maps. They were the confidants to European kings, Indian Moghuls and Chinese emporers.

In 1540 there were ten Jesuits, by 1556, the year of Loyola's death, there were a thousand and by 1580 there wre 5,000 Jesuits. Vladimer Lenin once said sighing, that with only a dozen cadres as talented and dedicated as the Jesuits, his Communist movement would change the world.

Their mission: “The aim and end of this society is, by traveling through the various regions of the world at the order of the pope of of the superior of the Society itself, to preach, hear confessions, and use all other means it can…to help souls.”

Their values:

1.Self-awareness—understanding strengths, weaknesses, values and worldview
2.Ingenuity—innovate and adapt in a changing world—not just thinking outside the box but living outside the box
3.Love in deed, not mere words
4.Heroism—energize self and others for heroic action—choose heroism as a way of working and living.

Their motto: "Magis"--Latin for "more"--always something more...something greater

Their "modo de prodecer": "Equip others to discern, on their own, what needs to be done"

Their perspective: "The whole world is your house"--living detached from things and places

Their recruiting slogan: “quamplurimi et quam aptissimi”—”as many as possible of the very best”

As previously noted, Loyola described the ideal Jesuit as "living with one foot raised"--always ready to respond to emerging opportunities.


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